To say that the Matrix franchise is an odd beast is an understatement.
The original 1999 film (love it or hate it) was a cultural juggernaut, one of those stories of which nearly every aspect of it became iconic. It was the 2001: A Space Odyssey of action cinema in that it told a tale of humanity, our progress, and our dangers, while also utilizing stunning special effects that are still hugely impressive twenty-one years later. And it stands as a bastion of progress in its own right – the enormous, stunning blockbuster artistry, the incredible action, the trippy, ambitious setting and storytelling, the genre-bending.
Then came the sequels, Reloaded and Revolutions, that went down like lead balloons, proving that this kind of lightning can only strike once. The Matrix sequels took what was amazing about the first film and made it the worst thing it could possibly be: familiar.
I remember the end of Revolutions where the Oracle and the Archetiect spoke of Neo’s possible return. I wondered, with my designer cynical teenage brain, whose career would need it first, Keanu Reeves or the Wachowskis. Well, Reeves has never been more popular, and the Wachowskis have spent the last two decades doing whatever weird thing they want. No one needs The Matrix to come back, but maybe that’s why it should.
The Ressurections trailer gives me the same feeling as Terminator: Dark Fate did when its first trailer dropped. These two franchises are the pillars of modern science fiction; the MCU and comic book movies in general couldn’t exist without them, but the sequel problem rears its ugly head.
There is nothing in the Revolutions trailer that feels particularly new. The fights scenes and special effects look good enough, but this is in a landscape when everything looks like and is often striving for The Matrix. Still, no one involved needs to make this film, which I’m hoping means that the story was good enough to tempt most people back for another go-around instead of just churning out the cash. But there’s no denying, for how slick and competent the iconic action looks, that it still lacks a certain feel of that exhilarating newness that made the original such vital viewing. Even with the spin of Neo taking the blue pill as the set-up, a fun what-if for the franchise, there’s still a distinct lack of real bite here.
I saw Candyman today, a sequel to an almost three-decade old cult horror movie that was made because its director and co screenwriter, Nia DaCosta, had a modern take on the story that works really well. This is what I’m hoping for The Matrix Ressurections. A new take on an old story, a Blade Runner 2049, and not The Matrix version of The Force Awakens.
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By Kevin Boyle
(header image via NME)